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IP/02/1865

Brussels, 11 December 2002

Commission adopts new proposals to reform European Governance

The Commission adopted on Wednesday a broad set of measures with a view to improving the decision-making in the European Union within existing Treaties. At the same time the Commission presented a report concerning progress achieved on this area since July 2001 when the White Paper for European Governance was issued. Taking into account the recently decided measures on "Better Regulation" the Commission has now fulfilled most part of its commitments undertaken in the White Paper (IP/01/1096 July 25th 2001).

When taking office President Romano Prodi declared reform of the European system of governance one of the key priorities for his mandate (SPEECH/00/41 February 15th 2000).

Today he said: "I believe all this and a lot more can and must be done to strengthen the efficiency and transparency of our institutions. With these measures we demonstrate that Europe can be brought much closer to its citizens even without changing the Treaties. Today we have delivered what we promised. I can only hope that one day soon others will follow."

The decisions of today focus particularly on the openness, effectiveness and accountability of the implementation of European legislation. These Communications comprise proposals on

  • Improving the quality of control, as regards application of legislation : the duty of the Commisson , as "gardian of the Treaties", will become even more relevant in the perspective of enlargement .

  • So-called "committee system";

  • Regulatory agencies and

  • Tripartite conventions and contracts between different levels of European governance.

Principles and standards of consultation

Among the individual measures adopted is a set of general principles and minimum standards concerning public consultation of interested parties. These measures offer a general and flexible framework for consultation of civil society and stakeholders, ensuring transparency and access to consultations, feedback to contributors and a reasonable minimum delay for responding within 8 weeks.

The general principles and minimum standards as regards consulting will apply from the beginning of 2003 and with regard to all major Commission policy initiatives. Such major initiatives are announced in the Commission's legislative and work programme. This means that every EU citizen will, for example, have the opportunity to comment on these initiatives.

Transparent quality expert advise

Another important decision is the horizontal principles and guidelines for the collection and use of expertise by its services. This initiative draws on best practices within and outside the Commission and offers a general framework to promote best practices in all relevant areas. The principles and guidelines aim to ensure that Commission departments mobilise and exploit the most appropriate expertise, while also establishing core principles of quality, openness and effectiveness in this domain.

The Commission's principles and guidelines on expertise apply to the collection and use of expertise in a wide sense, not only scientific expertise, and will apply from the beginning of 2003.

A more balanced committee system

More focused European institutions call for a clarification of the division of powers between the legislator (Parliament and Council) and the executive (Commission).

The Commission's proposal to review the functioning of the committee system aims to re-balance and strengthen the possibility for the two branches of the Community legislator to control the Commission's implementing powers in areas where Parliament and Council jointly legislate.

A framework for new regulatory agencies

The creation of regulatory agencies in clearly defined areas of competence could help improve the way rules are applied and enforced across the EU. In the perspective of a growing role for regulatory agencies, the framework proposes detailed criteria concerning the creation of regulatory agencies, their functioning and control mechanisms.

The aim is to enhance implementation and enforcement of Community rules while emphasising the unity and integrity of the executive function at the Community level.

Reaching out to regional and local actors

With the aim of ensuring better involvement of regional and local authorities and allowing a more adapted and flexible implementation of legislation and programmes, the Commission proposes to explore the possibility of target-based tripartite contracts and agreements between Member States, local authorities and the Commission for implementation of Community policies.

Making a distinction between target-based tripartite contracts (concluded in direct application of basic Community law) and target-based tripartite agreements (concluded outside the framework of Community law) between the Commission, a Member State and a regional or local authority, the communication sets out aims and scope of this new instrument. In the first phase the Commission envisages launching target based agreements and after evaluating these first experiences, to consider tripartite contracts.

Reactions to Governance proposals

As far as the progress report, it draws lessons from the public consultation on the White Paper and evaluates progress with regard to governance in the Commission as well as the Council and the Parliament. The report provides an overview on how the public, civil society and national or regional authorities in Member States have reacted to the governance proposals. It also summarises the main substance of the major proposals issued by the Commission during 2002 .

The report and all related documents are available on

http://europa.eu.int/comm/governance/index_en.htm


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